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Garden Update – March 2013

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After a relaxing long-weekend in Byron Bay, the first thing we did after unpacking was get straight into the garden. We now have a new no-dig garden bed planted with the seedlings I’ve been nurturing on the verandah for the last month. In this garden bed we used up the leftover chicken and horse manure we collected on a drive to Tamborine last year, we also used compost from our compost bin mixed with sand scavenged from our daughters day care – can you believe they were throwing it away during landscaping renovations, there’s also commercial potting mix and it’s been mulched with coir peat (coconut husk) to keep the soil protected. So far, the corn, peas, capsicum, silverbeet, & broccoli are flourishing. However, the zucchini have caught a nasty case of fungus due to all the wet weather we’ve been having lately. There’s plenty of new growth though, so fingers crossed.

Mr T also installed a fence around the veggie patch so the dog can’t frolic amongst the edibles anymore. It also means there’s no risk of her demolishing the harvest before it hits our plates as she did with the last strawberry harvest. You can see in the photo that the Rosella and Queensland Arrowroot have grown quite a bit since the last update. I can’t wait to make some more Rosella Jam in a few months.

Fenced off vegetable garden

Fenced off vegetable garden

Garden Update for February

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So here’s the vegetable garden as it stands today. A little different to the no-dig garden I installed only a month ago…

The plants have been madly growing up and out with the help of chook poo and sugarcane mulch. I can hardly recognise that these two photos are of the same plants in the same garden.

As you can see, I have also extended this garden and added a new garden bed below it. The extension was installed down in front of the verandah but the plants were getting too much sun there and were so stressed out they started dying after two days, so  I dragged the extension up and placed it next to the orginal garden. The plants that survived are doing much better, but not nearly so well as the rest of the patch. The chook poo in that part of the garden was also sourced from Bunnings rather than the Northey Street City Farm and I’m wondering that has something to do with it as well.

There have been a few little surprises in the past week:

One of the strawberry plants (Euroka) is covered in little white flowers.. fruit is on its way 🙂

The rosellas are budding…

… and so is the pumpkin.

It’s not all goodness though as the pumpkin and zucchini are covered in this mould or mildew…

Some quick research suggests that these plants are not getting enough sunlight during the day or have been planted too close together for the air to circulate well enough. It could simply be that the humid Brisbane summer is to blame. After the last two rainy wet seasons we’ve had fungus seems to flourish on anything. I’m not sure what to do about this to stop the plant dying or affecting the crop. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know in the comments section.

How to Create a No Fuss No-dig Vegetable Garden

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In Jackie French’s ‘Backyard Self Sufficiency’ she describes a garden full of life. Masses of healthy plants dripping with heirloom fruit and vegetables.  Free-range chickens scratching in the earth for grubs and insects. Clumps of lavender growing beneath the clothesline. Native birds flitting amongst the trees. A compost heap in the back corner supplying rich black soil for the garden and reducing household waste. Native bees pollinating the fruit and vegetable crops and providing honey. In short, a complete ecology in your own backyard. Jackie French also describes a minimum work no-dig garden as an easy way to get a vegetable garden up and running.

I found another description of a no-dig garden in Leonie Norrington’s ‘Tropical Food Gardens’ which looked surprisingly quick and easy to establish.

What you will need:

  • fertilizer
  • cardboard or newspaper
  • straw
  • manure
  • potting mix
  • seedlings
Step One: select a sunny site with exposure to the morning sun and preferably sheltered from the harsh afternoon sun.

Step Two: fertilise.

Step Three: lay down a layer of cardboard and wet throroughly.

Step Four: lay down a layer of straw and wet thoroughly.

Step Five: lay down a layer of manure and wet thoroughly.

Step Six: lay down another layer of straw and wet thoroughly.

Step Seven: lay out your seedlings.

Step Eight: divide parts of the straw and sit the seedlings in the gap. use the potting mix to stabilise the plants.

Step Nine: cover the potting mix with straw being sure to leave some space around the base of the plant.